When going fishing, you should always have fishing pliers in your tackle box if not in your belt pliers holder. It does not matter whether you are a bass fisherman, ice fisherman, surf caster, or salt-water angler. These specialty pliers make all the difference in fishing. You will find them very useful, regardless of whether you do fishing as a hobby, sport, or profession.
Personally, I find fishing therapeutic. So, after a tough day in the garage, sometimes I go fishing in my bass boat as a way to blow off some steam. One of the handiest tools I always carry on my fishing trip is a pair of fishing pliers. I use the pliers to remove hooks from fish, open split rings when changing out the hooks on lures, and cut fishing lines.
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Can you use regular pliers for fishing? The simple answer is yes but ordinary pliers are not meant for fishing. They are not as reliable as fishing pliers. Fishing or angling pliers have more features than regular pliers and are arguably more durable. In fact, the best fishing pliers are made of corrosion-resistant materials such as titanium, aluminum, or stainless steel. These materials can withstand the harshness of fresh or saltwater. However, any kind of steel tends to give in eventually at some point. But stainless steel is the best form of steel to use in water. I tried using my trusty needle nose pliers for fishing and boy, the pliers began to corrode two days later. The joint became too rusty to close. I had to soak the pliers in WD40 penetrant and clean the pliers thoroughly to remove rust.
Fishing pliers vs Regular pliers
As I have mentioned, you can use your needle nose or side cutter pliers for fishing but that is not their job. Most ordinary pliers will begin to rust as soon as you start exposing them to moisture. This is because they are mostly made of steel, which is prone to corrosion. The pliers also hardly do more than gripping and cutting. They can also be heavy on your hand and can easily slip and fall in the water.
In contrast, good fishing pliers don’t rust and will remain as good as new even if you use them in water. The reason is that they are made of rust-free materials such as aluminum or stainless steel. Some better ones are even coated with titanium for more protection. Others even have rubber-coated grips and spring-loaded handles.
Fishing pliers also have very sharp cutters for cutting through different fishing lines. Braided, mono, tungsten, fluorocarbon fishing lines, you name them. If you catch fish that have sharp teeth such as pike, bluefish, or barracuda, you need these pliers.
Other important features of some fishing pliers are the split ring tip for opening split rings and the crimp slots for shark leaders. So, if you plan to be crimping shark leaders on the fly, you should get angling pliers with crimps on the jaws. They are better than having a separate crimping tool. Unless you intend to make shark rigs of different sizes.
Lastly, some angling pliers also come with a keychain holder or spring lanyard to secure the pliers and ensure they do not fall overboard. Others come with a pliers sheath with a belt clip or hoop for securing the pliers on your belt.
What makes the best fishing pliers?
When looking for the best pliers for fishing, there are various features and qualities you should consider. The following are at the top of the list.
Material of construction
One of the tasks for which you will need angling pliers is to remove hooks from fish. You will encounter different types of fish some that are tough to deal with. As such, you need sturdy pliers that won’t bend or deform at the sheer force of pulling the hooks. The pliers need to have very strong jaws and a great gripping force.
Also, it is important to consider the type of material used to make the pliers. Since you will be using the fishing pliers in water or a wet environment, the material should at least be resistant to corrosion. Some of the materials you can consider are stainless steel, aluminum, or titanium-coated pliers.
Fishing pliers need not be heavy on your hand since you will be using them most of the time during your fishing trip. They should have a decent weight that won’t fatigue your arm or wrist. Moreover, heavy pliers can pull down your pants when you put them in the pocket of your jeans or hang them on the belt hoop.
Out of the three types, titanium angling pliers provide the best balance between strength and weight but are a bit pricy. Aluminum pliers are the lightest but not the sturdiest. On the other hand, stainless steel fishing pliers offer the most strength but they are the heaviest. So you need to carefully choose what suits your needs.
Some fish such as the largemouth bass have a tendency of attempting to swallow treble hooks and lures. If your fishing pliers do not have a decent length, it might take ages to extract the deeply lodged hooks and baits. This is where fishing pliers with a long nose come in handy. They get hooks out of fish that swallow them. So, if you anticipate that your catch will comprise such fish that have a rapacious appetite, you will need long nose angling pliers that can reach deep into the digestive tract of fish and pull the hooks out.
The best fishing pliers do much more than removing hooks and lures from your catch. They have a split ring tip for opening split rings, crimps for crimping shark leads on the fly, and cutters for cutting angling lines. That is what sets them apart from ordinary pliers. So, before you settle on a particular type of pliers, it is good to consider all the tasks you can accomplish with it. A rule of thumb is that multifunction fishing pliers provide the most value.
Lanyard or tether
A stubborn monstrous catch can make you might drop your trusty angling pliers in water and lose them. But a lanyard keeps the pliers from falling overboard. So, when selecting the best fishing pliers, consider those that come with a flexible tether and a carabiner hook for attaching to the belt loop. This extra accessory helps to keep your gear handy and never lost.
Although your pliers may have a lanyard to secure them in place, you should ensure that have a good grip too. Pliers with good grips won’t slip off easily even when you hold them with wet hands. Rubbery textured grips offer the best grip and the least slippery when wet.
Some fishing pliers have cutters inside like the regular pliers while others have cutters outside. All of them work effectively and the choice here depends on personal preference. Personally, I prefer the traditional inline cutters to side cutters.
Another thing to look for in cutters is how sharp and hard they are. If you intend to use them to cut braided lines, they should be razor-sharp. For monofilaments and fluorocarbon fishing lines, you can get away with scissors that are not super sharp.
Most fishing pliers come with extra accessories such as a pliers sheath, fishing lip gripper, and a coiled lanyard among others. These extras come in handy in making your fishing experience worthwhile. So, if you are torn between two competing pliers tools, you can choose the unit with more useful add-on accessories.
The color of your pliers might not seem like an important factor until you misplace the pliers in the boat and spend valuable time finding them. I like brightly colored angling pliers because they are easy to spot when you drop or misplace them. My favorite colors are blue, yellow, light green, and red.
Which are the best fishing pliers?
There are hundreds of different types of fishing pliers in the market. Some come as a bare tool while others include additional accessories. To make it less hectic for you to choose the best pliers for your fishing expedition, I have zeroed down to the following 5 units. Each offers a unique experience and has what it does best.
ZACX Fishing Pliers – Best for hook removal
- Stainless steel jaws and aluminum handles
- Length: 8-1/2″
- Has split ring opener
- Stainless steel inline cutters
- Comes with a lip gripper and sheath
The Zacx fishing pliers are the best for removing hooks. They have a long nose that reaches deep down the gut of fish that attempt to swallow hooks and lures.
The pliers also come with a fish gripper for gripping the fish’s mouth when pulling out the hooks. A lip gripper eliminates the risk of a fish bite, especially if you catch species like catfish that have teeth.
Zaxc pliers are strong and well-made. Their jaws are stainless steel while the handles are aluminum. This ensures a good balance of strength and weight by ensuring that the pliers are tough on fish and light in your hands. These pliers not only are also elegant. They have holes in the aluminum handles and nice yellow detail on the hinges. The bright color increases the visibility of the pliers when you drop or misplace them
Lastly, Zacx fishman pliers have very sharp replaceable line cutters. You can use them to cut different types of lines including braid lines and mono lines. Unfortunately, the cutters are very small.
Other features of these pliers are the split ring openers and crimping slots for pressing shark leads. All these features make the pliers versatile but what they do best is to remove hooks and fish lures.
Piscifun Fishing Pliers – Best for cutting braid
- Stainless steel jaws and aluminum handles
- Multifunctional jaws
- Inline cutters
- Length: 6.7″
- Includes a lanyard and polythene sheath
- Available in 3 colors
The Piscifun 6.7″ fishing pliers are another multi-functional angling pliers. They have a tip for opening split rings, crimpers for pressing leads, and teeth on the jaws for gripping fish hooks. The most outstanding feature, however, is the super sharp tungsten carbide cutters. They are so tough that you can use them to cut the strongest braided lines and the heaviest mono leaders. The cutters also slice through fly lines and backing lines like butter. This is what makes Piscifun pliers the best for cutting braided lines.
Other features that make these all-around fishing pliers so good are the strong stainless steel jaws with titanium coating, a spring-loading mechanism to keep the jaws open, and the beautifully machined anodized aluminum handles. They make the pliers such a steal. You can use them for any type of fishing in both fresh and saltwater without worrying about rust.
Piscifun angling pliers also include additional accessories such as a retractable lanyard with a carabiner hook and a nylon pliers sheath with a belt loop.
Kastking Cutthroat fishing pliers – Best for saltwater
- Stainless steel and rubber handles
- External tungsten-carbide cutters
- Includes a lanyard and pliers holster
- Features split ring remover
- Available in many colors
The Kastking cutthroat 7″ fishing pliers are not only the best for saltwater but also the most comfortable to hold. They have ergonomic rubber handles to provide a comfortable grip. The handles are also textured to ensure a non-slip grip even when your hands are wet. You also have the luxury of choosing between 6 different handle colors.
Kastking pliers feature corrosion-resistant, multi-function, stainless steel jaws. The jaws are further proofed from rust with a tough Teflon coating. You can use them to grip and pull any fish hook, make your own hooks, crimp shark leads, and cut fishing lines.
Like the Piscifun, Kastking cutthroat fisherman pliers feature super-hard tungsten carbide cutters. You can use them to cut any type of fishing lines including fluorocarbon, and braid. The cutters are also resistant to corrosion. So, you won’t worry about rust even if you take the pliers with you to the Atlantic to fish the notorious black sea bass. These pliers will remain as good as new even if you forget to dry the salty seawater on them.
In addition to the tool, the Kastking fishing pliers kit comes with a molded pliers holster that you can clip onto your belt or the waistband of your shorts. The sheath is rotatable to allow you to get it out of the way so that you don’t sit on it. You also get a coiled lanyard fitted with a carabiner hook to keep your pliers from falling overboard.
Van Staal Titanium Fishing Pliers Kit – Best Titanium fishing pliers
- Titanium fishing pliers
- Tungesten cutter on the side
- Length: 6 inches
- Includes a leather molded sheath and lanyard
- No split ring remover
Should I say these are the most durable fishing pliers you can get? But let’s find out why.
The Van Staal titanium fishing pliers are a dream come true. They are manufactured from real corrosion-proof titanium. As I mentioned earlier, titanium pliers offer the best balance of weight and strength. These pliers are indispensably lightweight and very tough. You can tell they are engineered for performance when you open them and are definitely built to outlast your fishing life. Any angler who gets them raves about them.
Unlike other multi-functional angling pliers, the Van Staal only features cutters and a serrated jaw. The cutters are on the side and are made from hardened Tungsten. Their hardness rating on the Rockwell scale is 60. You can use them to cut different types of lines including braided and gel spun lines. If you want these pliers for backpacking, the tungsten cutters will not let you down. They cut like dream through twigs, wire, hooks, paracord, anything!
These high-quality pliers have ergonomic handles that are very comfortable to grip. They are also spring-loaded to remain open when you are not clamping on them. This helps to eliminate fatigue from your hand and keeps them ready for the next gripping job.
To help secure your investment, the manufacturer includes a molded leather pouch and a spring tether to the sheath. The sheath has a nice belt loop that will accept up to a 2″ belt.
Overall, the Van Staal titanium angling pliers are among the most durable. They are the perfect gift for any fisherman who wants a durable set. Although you can gift them to any fisherman, professional anglers will appreciate them more. You can buy them as a Christmas gift, father’s day gift, or anniversary gift for fishing or backpacking.
Sadly though, these pliers lack a split ring opener for opening split rings when changing out hooks. But even so, I can assure you they will have the most boat time.
Reallink Aluminum Fishing pliers – Best for the money
- Aluminum body pliers
- Has split ring opener, crimper, and cutters
- Includes 7 extra accessories
- Comes with a belt pouch
With up to 7 pieces, the Reallink Aluminum fishing pliers are the best for the money. At less than $30, you get multi-functional angling pliers, wire coil lanyard, sheath, hook eye cleaner, 2 zinger retractors, knot tying tool, and a few ounces of maintenance oil. This is by far the best fishing pliers kit for beginners because they include everything you will need on your first fishing trip.
The multi-functional Reallink angling pliers have an aluminum body that has superior rust and corrosion resistance. However, as you know by now, aluminum is not the strongest metal and therefore doesn’t make the strongest pliers. As such, these pliers might not withstand heavy abuse like the Titanium or stainless steel pliers. Hence, they are good for bank fishing.
The pliers have serrated long narrow jaws for reaching and pulling out hooks from fish. The jaws also have integrated crimpers for crimping a split shot weight and building stell leaders. In addition, there are replaceable carbide cutters on the outside for cutting fish lines. Unfortunately, the line cutters do not cut braid lines very well but they do cut mono and fluorocarbon cleanly. You can use the maintenance oil that comes with the kit to keep the blades in good shape, especially after sea fishing.
As you can see, there is a variety of quality fishing pliers from which to choose. Whether you are a recreational angler or professional fisherman, there is a choice for you. There are also pliers that are most suitable for fresh water and others for seawater. It all depends on where you will be taking your fishing. My rule of thumb is to use aluminum and titanium pliers for seawater and stainless steel for freshwater. This is because saltwater is very harsh on any type of steel unless it is further protected with a rust-proof coating. Lastly, decent pliers for fishing go for at least $20. However, pure titanium fishing pliers are more expensive but last a lifetime. They also make good gifts for a fishing friend, parent, or spouse.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally, you cannot cut fish hooks with fishing pliers. If you try you might ruin the cutters. Ideally, the cutters on most angling pliers are for cutting fishing lines. To cut hooks, you will need regular pliers with integrated cutters, a pair of dykes, or mini bolt cutters.
Titanium pliers are the best for fishing because they are not too heavy or too light. Furthermore, titanium is fairly inert and strong. However, pliers made of titanium are quite pricey. You need a deep pocket for them. But if you don’t want to break the bank, you can consider stainless steel or aluminum pliers. The problem with stainless steel fishing pliers is that they are quite heavy and can rust when you use them in the sea for long. Nonetheless, stainless steel angling pliers are very strong. On the other hand, aluminum pliers are light and not strong. You might consider them if you are elderly or just looking for pliers that will not fatigue your wrist or break the wallet.
The crimping slots on the jaws of some angling pliers are for crimping the fishing line after connecting it to the fishing rig. You can also use the crimper to press the split shot weights onto the line.